I read Yann Martel's novel a couple of years ago, and was enough enchanted to make very sure to steer clear of the film.
(Forgetful readers will find my views on adaptations here :
After pressure from my nine-year-old (I know. I have weird kids.), we caught it on TV the other night, despite some resistance on my part as the book did not at all strike me as child-friendly.
The film, however, turned out a lot more come-at-able, easier to grasp, since all the darker aspects are gone. Hence, a lot less interesting.
It was visually enchanting, of course, (Ang Lee knows his stuff!) but basically, I felt he had made a children's movie out of a novel for adults.